From the Pastor’s Desk

Dear PPPC –

I love to read and quite frankly, I don’t read as much as I’d like. It’s something that often falls to the wayside in the busy-ness of this thing called life together. For Lent, one of my “taking up somethings” was to read more consistently. On vacation last week, I finished The Women by Kristin Hannah. Throughout Lent, I’ve been more slowly working my way through the book, The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World, by Rabbi Sharon Brous.

Sarah Wilderman summarizes The Amen Effect so well, “Rabbi Brous roots her work in ancient rabbinical text. Her spiritual community’s entire foundational ethos can be traced back to a sermon she gave about a lesson from the Mishnah, the rabbinical legal compendium, which described a pilgrimage the faithful took in the era of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Each worshiper would walk up to the Temple Mount, Rabbi Brous explains, enter the plaza and begin a sacred circular path. Those who had experienced grief that year would enter the same door and walk the same circle but in the opposite direction. Each person who moved with the crowd was then tasked with doing something simple and remarkable: to look directly at the grievers and ask a single question. “What happened to you?” The person in pain would answer. In turn, he or she would receive a blessing.”

“This timeless wisdom speaks to what it means to be human in a world of pain,” writes Rabbi Brous. “This year, you walk the path of the anguished. Perhaps next year, it will be me. I hold your broken heart knowing that one day you will hold mine.”

This ritual, Rabbi Brous continues, offers lessons about the sacredness of presence wherever you are in your life. “Asking, with an open heart, ‘Tell me about your sorrow,’ may be the deepest affirmation of our humanity, even in terribly inhumane times,” she writes.

The longer I serve in ministry, the more convinced I become that people, all people, are searching for meaning, for belonging, and for wholeness. The longer I serve in ministry, the more convinced I become that the church still matters, and while chaos, narratives and lies swirl around us, all we can do is stay true to our highest Christian calling, which is to shine the light of Jesus Christ in a world that is desperate for it, desperate for the meaning, belonging, and healing it will bring into their lives. And the world will be drawn to it, because I am persuaded that the good news we have to share, the good news to which we get to bear witness is the object of every heart’s yearning.

“What happened to you?”

A question God tenderly asks us each and every day. It’s a question we must ask each other. And if we do dare to ask it, we cannot look away when the answer comes. God does not look away when we answer, we must be courageous enough to do the same. Because when we hold someone else’s life tenderly, we become a living expression of our good news. And the good news is the object of every heart’s yearning. Every heart. Without exception.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Molly